Working Stiff

This is a review of “Working Stiff” by Rachel Caine. It is the first novel in the Revivalist Series.

Bryn Davis has just started her first day at work at a funeral home. It’s her dream job, and she’s so happy that all of her hard work has paid off. She’s excited and she’s very keen to get down to business and show her new boss what she can do.

She has the worst first day on the job ever. The absolute worst. Not only does tragedy strike, but she also uncovers a secret that her boss really wants to stay hidden. He’s a drug dealer. But he’s most definitely not your run-of-the-mill dealer. Oh no. He’s in the business of dealing with death, and the drug he’s got to peddle is a very special one.

Brynn is backed into a corner and involuntarily becomes addicted to the drug. Once you start taking it, you’ve got to continue. The alternative is death. Slow and horrible and all too inevitable. She’s been approached by Pharmadene the original developers and producers of the drug. They wish to find out how the drug is leaving their hands. They believe that Bryn is the ideal agent for them to utilize. They agree to provide her with the drug she desperately needs in return for her help in solving their leak.

I really enjoyed this novel. I love Rachel Caine’s writing style and her other series. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this series and this protagonist, but I really enjoyed this novel and Bryn’s character. I was engrossed (and a little grossed out) right from the beginning of this novel. I look forward to completing this series.

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Vampire Academy

This is a review of “Vampire Academy” by Richelle Mead. It is the first novel in the Vampire Academy Series.

I read this series years ago, and loved it then. As this novel has been recently turned into a film, I decided to re-read the series, and review them.

Rose Hathaway is a teenage dhampir. She’s a sort of half vampire. There are Moroi, good magic-wielding vampires. They still need blood to survive, but they never kill for it, and they not immortal. With only an aversion to sunlight, they’re not that different, just a bit taller and more ethereal than the average joe. When they have children with other Moroi, they produce Moroi children. When they have children with dhampirs or humans, they produce dhampirs. Dhampirs are sturdy and strong. They’re fitter than humans and hardier than the Moroi. This makes them the ideal candidates to be trained to guard the Moroi. And they do need guarding. Because there are other vampires, and they’re far from good.

Strigoi are the undead. They are evil vampires that are immortal, but have lost all sense of morality and survive only to kill and cause suffering. Their favourite prey is Moroi, but they’ll happily kill dhampirs and humans to survive. They can’t go out during the day, and ultimately they’re the reason why Moroi need their dhampir guardians. Rose was training to become such a one. That is until she and her best friend Lissa (Moroi Princess Vasilisa) decided to leave their school St Vladimir’s Academy, and live out in the human world, on the run.

But they’ve been located by the school’s guardians, and it’s back to St Vladimir’s. The girls are in trouble and they’re not telling why they left in the first place. Lissa is yet to specialise in her elemental magic. Moroi teens usually manifest their magic by having particular skill and aptitude with one element. Even though Lissa seems behind in her magic use, she’s developed other useful skills. Skills nobody else seems to have…

Rose is back into her hardcore guardian training, but she’s missed so much. This has led to her having to undertake extra classes with top notch (and pretty hot) guardian Dimitri Belikov. When strange and sinister things start to happen around Lissa again, will Rose be up to par with her guardian skills? Will she be able to protect her?

I enjoyed this book the first time around, and I enjoyed reading it again now. It didn’t matter that I’m a few years older than I was, it’s still a good, entertaining book. I love the friendship and devotion that Rose and Lissa share. They truly value one another and go to great pains for each other. I also like Rose’s interesting love-predicament. I love the way Mead tackles issues like mental health in her YA novels. She provides insight into what it’s like to suffer from a problem that not many people are willing to openly discuss. I look forward to seeing the movie adaptation of this book.

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Alice in Zombieland

This is a review of “Alice in Zombieland” by Gena Showalter. It is the first book in The White Rabbit Chronicles.

Alice has a lot more problems than your average teen. Her dad is crazy. He won’t let anyone in her family venture outside of the house after dark. He believes in monsters; Alice and her younger sister Emma just believe he’s insane. He’s embarrassing, and Alice is constantly wishing her mother would just leave the drunken mess he’s become, and make a new life for herself.

Alice’s whole world is rocked to the core on her 16th birthday. She’s in a car accident that leaves everyone (but her) dead. The aftermath of the accident makes her realise that her dad was right. Monsters do exist… She saw them as they feasted on her family members. Alice is deeply changed by that night. Things will never be the same for her. She’s confused. Did she actually see monsters? Do the monsters truly exist? She believes yes, but she’s also scared that she’s inherited her dad’s cray cray.

Alice moves in with her grandparents, and starts at a new school. She makes new friends, and enemies, and even a few frenemies. She misses her family like nothing else, and more than anything, she wishes that she could atone for the way she treated her father. She wants to know more about the monsters, but where can she look? Who can she trust? Ali doesn’t want her grandparents to think she’s crazy, and she wants her new bestie Kat to think it even less…

And there’s more strangeness. Why does she see white rabbits in the clouds? Do they warn her of danger as she’s come to believe? And what’s with the sudden and intense attraction to Asher High’s bad boy Cole? Just why are Cole and his group so mysterious?

I didn’t love this book, but I didn’t loathe it either. I quite liked the premise, but it was a bit too “high school” for me, which is fair enough, as it is a YA novel. I did enjoy the character’s banter with each other, and I was a fan of the dialogue for the most part. A lot of the time I didn’t know what to make of Ali, she seemed a bit all over the place, but I guess that would be true of any teenager that has suffered such trauma. I didn’t really like the way Cole treated Mackenzie, it was too commanding and it was really off-putting. I did think before reading this novel that it was going to be a post-apocalyptic pastiche of “Alice in Wonderland”. It’s really, really not. These aren’t your regular zombies (which is kinda cool), and there were no great similarities between classic “Alice In Wonderland” and this tale, which I was a little disappointed with. I did like Kat’s character (Cheshire Kat?) and I also loved Ali’s grands, and their great lines (especially with their teen slang). “Alice in Zombieland” is definitely worth a read if you like teen romance novels with a supernatural flavour.

Favourite lines/passages:

“Alley Kat. Racing to the rescue of another stray?”
Mackenzie

“We’re not trying to get all up in your biznez Ali”
Pops

“I want to spend my time hanging out with people who make me feel good about myself. People who make me happy.”
Kat

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Endless Knight

This is a review of “Endless Knight” by Kresley Cole. It is book 2 in The Arcana Chronicles. It follows on from “Poison Princess“.

This book is a part of a series, the following review will most definitely reveal details of the previous novel. Do not read if you intend to read this series in the future and don’t want to know of any potential plot spoilers.

Life post-apocalypse is tough, just ask Evie and her friends. They survived The Flash, a global cataclysmic flare that flash-evaporated the Earth’s bodies of water and reduced most plant-life to ash. It’s bad enough just trying to survive in general, but these teens have another big problem … they’re Arcana.

Into every Dark Age on Earth, twenty two children are born. Each of these children possess a supernatural power. These are the Arcana. The Arcana must battle it out to the death, there can only be one victor. This victor lives on as an immortal until the next game. The Major Arcana on a deck of Tarot Cards represent each of the twenty two.

Evie is The Empress. She controls plant life and has an arsenal of poison at her disposal. She has already destroyed one Arcana, the twisted Alchemist, Arthur, and The Empress within her is clamouring for more. But Evie doesn’t want to play the game. She’s formed a shaky alliance with a few other Arcana, and she aims to recruit more. So far she has: Matthew- The Fool, Selena-The Moon and Finneas-The Magician. They all want to be rid of Death, he taunts them and has been the Ultimate Victor the last few times around. This means that he’s a serious player and has more knowledge of the game, as he’s able to retain his memories.

On top of all of this, Evie has Jackson to contend with. He’s only just finding out about The Arcana, and his first real glimpse into the whole strangeness was of Evie, gone full Empress. It freaked him out majorly and he’s pissed that she’s kept things from him. Evie can’t really blame him, but she also can’t help but be hurt by his reaction. They’ve definitely got some stuff to work through.

Can they survive all that they must?
There’s:
~Zombie baggers (liquid seeking deaders)
~Militia Armies
~Cannibals (ugh) and
~Other Arcana who want to play the game

Is everything as it first seems, can they trust anyone? Can they trust each other?

I liked this book very much. It’s been a while since I read “Poison Princess“, so it took me a moment to recall some things but it’s written so well that I was soon immersed in the story again. I loved the raw quality and the intensity of the romance in this novel. So much passion! I also loved being introduced to the different Arcana. I lurvved it when the Cajun spoke. Kresley Cole has such a way with accents! The way she writes the accented dialogue is so artful, I could almost hear the Cajun rolling out of my head and into my ears. I always enjoy the individuality of her characters, their dialogue is so unique to each of them. I was a fan of the surprising turns this novel took, and I was super pleased with the creep factor of some scenes. I really cannot wait for more Arcana, consider me hooked.

Favourite lines/passages:

“You’re acting like we got some kind of choice in this matter. You’re just as screwed as I am–because we’re both too far gone for the other.”
Jackson Deveaux

“Arcana rule number one: trust no one.”
Death

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The Day of the Dead

This is a review of the Tomas short “The Day of the Dead” by Karen Chance. It is a short story belonging to the world of the Dorina Basarab and Cassandra Palmer Series. Karen Chance says that chronologically, this short is ahead of both series, and can be read anytime after “Claimed by Shadow“. You can download a (free!) copy of the short here, on Karen Chance’s official website.

Tomas has returned to Mexico to kill Alejandro once and for all. He’s been trying for so long, and been through so much, that he’s more than ready for this day. He’s not afraid to die, just as long as he takes Alejandro with him.

Alejandro is as bad as they come. On this day, known to locals as “The Day of the Dead” every year, he sets up a hunt. He traps people, and then sets them loose in his underground maze. If they make it out, they are allowed to live. But no one ever makes it out alive.

Sara is looking for her younger brother Jason, but it seems like he’s been captured by Alejandro. Which is strange to say the least, because her brother is a Mage and Alejandro usually leaves magic practitioners alone…

I enjoyed this novel. I did think that the scene hotted up a bit too quick, but it is a short after all.

I am looking forward to reading the newly published “Tempt the Stars”!

For more information on the timeline of the Cassandra Palmer Series and the Dorina Basarab Series (and associated short stories) please follow this link. (Found on Karen Chance’s official website).

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Outback Dreams

This is a review of “Outback Dreams” by Rachael Johns. It is the first Bunyip Bay Novel.

Faith Forrester is a country girl. She loves dressing for comfort, and lending a helping hand around the family farm. But she’s been feeling some discontent lately. It feels like her brother and her father have been taking her for granted. Ever since her mother passed away, she’s been doing far too much cooking and cleaning, and she’s starting to resent it. She’d love to have more to do around the farm, and she’d love to do something meaningful with her time. After attending an Alumna do for her old boarding school, she’s thinking of trying her hand at fundraising. She’d also love to meet a man, but Bunyip Bay is a small town, and she’s not having much luck.

Daniel ‘Monty’ Montgomery has always dreamed of being a farmer and owning his own property. He and Faith have been best friends for forever. When he was a kid, his parents sold the family property and relocated to the city. He’s been yearning for his own farm ever since. He moved back to Bunyip Bay as soon as he was old enough and has been doing odd jobs at all hours ever since, in order to save for his dream. He’s also ready to settle down with someone special. He’s got his eye on Ruby, a young woman who’s recently moved back to Bunyip Bay, but she’s still a little distant.

After a night of drunkeness, Monty and Faith wind up doing something they’d never thought they’d ever do. Have they just ruined the best friendship either of them have ever had? How will they come back from this?

I really enjoyed this novel. I love how Rachael Johns writes books that are realistic and believable. In “Outback Dreams” she wrote about something very close to my heart. Monty has a younger brother Wil, who is like my younger brother. They are both autistic. I could tell while reading this novel that Monty loves his little brother the way I do mine. Being an older sister, I am fiercely protective of my little brother. I love him so so much. His smiles are much more precious to me than anyone else’s, his embraces are golden. I find his quirks so endearing, and I can’t even describe the way I feel when he tells me he loves me. He is honest to a fault, and very specific and black and white. There are no grey areas. He’s taught me so much.

I think I was luckier than Monty in that I was much older than he was when my brother came along. I think this made it easier for me to understand him a little better. But, I do get why Monty feels the way he does about Wil. I do. When I was younger, and when my little brother was smaller, it was hard for me to not be able to show him affection in the way I wanted to. I could also see why Monty reacted the way he did towards the end of the novel, it’s a very big thing to overcome when you have a sibling with autism (I don’t want to be more specific, I don’t want to give too much away!). All in all, autism was written about with much empathy and honesty in this novel, and it made me happy.

I really loved the integrity that these characters had and I enjoyed that they all strove to work through their issues and problems. I can’t wait to read more about Bunyip Bay, as there are a few characters that I would really like to know more about.

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The Gauntlet

This is a review of the Kit Marlowe short “The Gauntlet” by Karen Chance. It is a short story belonging to the world of the Dorina Basarab and Cassandra Palmer Series. Chronologically, this short takes place before the either series even begins, and can be read at any time. It is described as being the prequel to “The Queen’s Witch“. You can download a (free!) copy of the short here, on Karen Chance’s official website.

Gillian Urswick is a coven witch in Elizabethan England. She has been captured along with many other coven witches and her daughter Elinor by The Circle. The Circle is made up of mages that have recently migrated to England, and believe that the coven witches are dangerous and should be locked up and/or eradicated. Gillian has been imprisoned and gagged, and while she is a very persistent woman, she’s not sure that she can escape her current predicament.

Having a vampire look them over (presumably as a human would look over fish at a seafood market) is almost welcome. But is the vampire as sinister as he first seems?

I enjoyed this Kit short a lot more than “The Queen’s Witch”. As it’s been called a prequel, I can only assume that this was written after. I would suggest reading “The Gauntlet” and then read “The Queen’s Witch“. It would just flow better. I liked learning about the coven witches and the Triskelion in this short. And it was nice to see Kit as a young vamp.

For more information on the timeline of the Cassandra Palmer Series and the Dorina Basarab Series (and associated short stories) please follow this link. (Found on Karen Chance’s official website).

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The Queen’s Witch

This is a review of the Kit Marlowe short “The Queen’s Witch” by Karen Chance. It is a short story belonging to the world of the Dorina Basarab and Cassandra Palmer Series. Chronologically, this short takes place before the either series even begins, and can be read at any time. You can download a (free!) copy of the short here, on Karen Chance’s official website.

It is Elizabethan England and Gillian Urswick is a coven witch. It’s not a good time to be such. She’s recently escaped from being held captive by The Circle, and she’s looking for safe passage out of England for herself and her daughter Elinor.

Unfortunately for Gillian, the mages are not done with her. Nor is a certain vampire named Kit Marlowe. Marlowe has a proposition for Gillian to consider, and it might just be worth her while.

This was not my favourite Karen Chance short, but it was still an entertaining read.

For more information on the timeline of the Cassandra Palmer Series and the Dorina Basarab Series (and associated short stories) please follow this link. (Found on Karen Chance’s official website).

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Hunt the Moon

This is a review of “Hunt the Moon” by Karen Chance. It is book 5 in the Cassandra Palmer Series. It follows on from “Curse the Dawn“.

As this book is a part of a series, the following review may reveal some details of the previous novel/s. Do not read if you intend to read this series in the future and don’t want to know of any potential plot spoilers. As this book is also part of a larger series (it ties in with the Dorina Basarab Series) it may be wise to use caution when reading these reviews on the Cassandra Palmer Series. I may unintentionally give out spoilers for part of that series, though Karen Chance is pretty good at keeping the two story arcs fairly separated.

Cassandra is discovering her Pythian power. She’s getting a little help from Jonas Marsden, leader of the Silver Circle, but she’s still not making a whole lot of ground. She’s finding it more than a little tricky to get a handle on some of her abilities. Her official coronation is coming up, and she’s nervous about the dress that Augustine may be cooking up to take revenge on her for utterly destroying his other masterpieces. Oh, and there’s also been a few attempts made on her life. And they’re not trifling attempts either. They’re wily and tricksy. And those behind them are not beyond trying to eliminate her before she’s even been born.

That’s right, they’re not afraid to take her mother’s life. And while Cassie’s always dreamt about meeting her own mother, she’d never thought she’d be going back in time to do it. What if it were to affect the future?

Cassie is still trying to figure out her relationship with the sexy Master Vampire Mircea. She’s trying to date him, but it’s not going so well. Aside from the fact that Mircea has already given her his mark, and that means the supernatural world sees them as pretty much married, she really wants to take things slow, and be on equal terms. At the moment, she’s pretty much feeling like his property.Things are also a bit confusing when it comes to a certain War Mage. They had a moment in the last novel, and while it was a life-threatening-emergency kinda moment, it was a moment nonetheless.

Life sure isn’t getting easier as Pythia for Cassie.

I enjoyed this one. I am loving the direction that has been taken with Pritkin, and I liked learning some info about Cassie’s parents. The ending is a cliffhanger, so I am super glad that this second reading of mine has taken place just a few days before the release of book #6 “Tempt the Stars”. I can’t wait to see if Dorina and Cassie will actually cross paths! After that little scene in Mircea’s room in “Fury’s Kiss” (and Dory’s new status bestowed upon her at the end of that novel) I can’t really see how Mircea will able to keep his secret for much longer!

For more information on the timeline of the Cassandra Palmer Series and the Dorina Basarab Series (and associated short stories) please follow this link. (Found on Karen Chance’s official website).

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The House at Cobb End

This is a review of the John Pritkin short “The House at Cobb End” by Karen Chance. It is a short story belonging to the Cassandra Palmer Series. Chronologically, this novel takes place before the Cassandra Palmer Series even begins, however, due to its content it should be read after “Curse the Dawn“. It is available for (free!) download here, on Karen Chance’s official website.

As this short story is a part of a series, the following review will reveal some details about characters in the other novels of the Cassandra Palmer Series. Do not read if you intend to read this series in the future and don’t want to know of any potential plot spoilers. As this short story is also part of a larger series (it ties in with the Dorina Basarab Series) it may be wise to use caution when reading these reviews on the Cassandra Palmer Series. I may unintentionally give out spoilers for part of that series, though Karen Chance is pretty good at keeping the two story arcs fairly separated.

Pritkin, about to be married, is searching for a house suitable not only for his occupation as a war mage for the Silver Circle, but for his new wife as well. Nothing seems to come even a tiny bit close. That is, until he sees a certain house at Cobb End, and he’s just got to have it.

Chance tells us in her author notes that this story was written in response to a question regarding Pritkin’s house, which we first see in “Curse the Dawn”. But it’s a really nice short. It makes me sad for past Pritkin. But I really liked delving deeper into the mysterious character that is John Pritkin.

For more information on the timeline of the Cassandra Palmer Series and the Dorina Basarab Series (and associated short stories) please follow this link. (Found on Karen Chance’s official website).

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